Every now and then, a couple of us get to talking about our mutual fandoms. With the impending premiere of The Walking Dead's seventh season upon us, it was only natural that the conversation turn to zombies.
Everyone has a different opinion of who was at the receiving end of Negan's bat in last season's finale, but, in just five short days, we'll actually have our answer.
Dani, our Editor-in-Chief, and Brooke, one of our senior staffers, have broken down their theories as to who used to be the pile of mush and blood we saw on the pavement in the most recent trailer. Be sure and let us know who you think got the, erm, bat in the poll and comments below!
Up until about five minutes ago, I was convinced that, come Sunday, The Walking Dead fans would find that Daryl Dixon was at the other end of Negan’s barbwire-wrapped bat, Lucille. I had solid reasons for my convictions, too:
1) Norman Reedus has his own show on AMC, Ride with Norman Reedus, in which he travels the country on his Harley, exploring biker culture. Now, this show aired during TWD’s offseason, so it may be fine -- but having one’s own show usually means one doesn’t need to be part of an ensemble any longer.
2) Kirkman and co. have been saying for quite some time that Daryl, who is not a character from the comics, has thrown a rather large wrench into their ability to stick to the source material. The fans fell in love with him, and the creators indulged us -- but they’re back on track with the comics now, and Daryl doesn’t quite fit anymore, since he’s not a part of them. This would be an excellent opportunity to remedy that.
3) In the new trailer, Negan discusses the significance of having a “right-hand man.” Obviously, if we were to name Rick’s, it would be Daryl. Negan is an evil SOB, who I’m sure would love to rub rock salt in freshly torn wounds, so this could definitely be some ominous foreshadowing.
4) The creators of The Walking Dead hate us all and get drunk on our tears and, therefore, choose to viciously slaughter our favorite characters.
All of this reasoning was based, not on the photo (you know the one: Glenn, Rosita, Daryl, Michonne, Abraham, Maggie, Rick, Sasha, Aaron, Carl and Eugene all in a semicircle, with Negan at the center, awaiting their fate) but my own knowledge and experience with the series. A lot of fans replayed the scene over and over and poured over the finale photos, trying to predict who would leave us, but I didn’t feel dissatisfied with the finale like a lot of fans did. In fact, I loved it.
I thought it was glorious from start-to-finish. Thrilling and suspenseful, it had me on the edge of my seat from the minute it started. I wanted to be surprised! I wanted to chat with my friends and hear their theories, but had no real interest in solving the mystery early.
Tonight, however, I looked closely at the photo, I watched the trailers and I paid attention. My prediction has changed ... kind of. I haven’t entirely ruled out the possibility of Daryl’s demise, but I’ve opened my mind to alternate possibilities, all because of two things:
1) In the trailer, Rick has fresh blood on the right side of his chiseled face:
2) Because of this, I am forced to recognize the possibility that the person directly to Rick’s right met their maker.
I don’t know that I believe it was Maggie (who was directly next to Rick on his right); I do think it may have been Abraham, though.
I don’t know why, but I just don’t believe that even Negan would kill the ailing pregnant woman in cold blood. Maybe that’s sexist, but that’s what my gut tells me. I also don’t think he’d tell a woman she was, “taking it like a champ,” as Negan told his victim. I watch a lot of TV; language is gendered.
That brings me to my final prediction, after considering all of the above factors:
In the photos of Rick from last year’s finale, that blood on his face is not there -- that shit is fresh. That limits the possibilities on a purely physical level. If that’s fresh splatter upon his cheek, it’s likely not from Daryl, who is a full four people away. It could be from Abraham though, who is close enough, with only a frail Maggie between him and his leader.
I’ve had a love/hate thing going with Abraham pretty much since he arrived, but I can certainly admit that he would likely take any beating “like a champ.”
Rest in peace, Abraham; we hardly knew ye.
There has been a lot of recent fan speculation (including from my best friend) that Maggie got it, and Abraham tried to block Lucile and got injured. In the final moments of the finale, when the screen goes black and all we hear are wood hitting bone and the muffled sounds of crying, I don’t think Glenn could have remained quiet if Maggie got injured or killed: he would not want to live if Maggie died, and he would have made a scene to draw Negan to him. As much as the showrunners and writers have no qualms about letting women and children get attacked by zombies, I don’t think they would show a large man bludgeoning a sick, pregnant woman to death in front of her husband and friends. Negan is a businessman and wants new employees, and committing such a heinous act is not going to make Rick’s group work harder out of fear.
I don’t think Michonne, Rosita, or Sasha met with Lucille’s wrath for the same reason the lone female didn’t get killed in Predator: no sport. Same goes for Carl: he’s still a kid, at least in Negan’s eyes, and the same reaction would come from Rick if Carl were hit as from Glenn if Maggie got hit: he would lose his freaking mind (which is already dangling by a thread) and to hell with the consequences.
The blood on the right side of Rick’s face in the teaser for Season 7’s premiere indicates that someone on his right (audience’s left) at least was struck, if not killed outright, by Lucille, and the back spray streaked across Rick’s face as Negan swung the bat back to hit again. I think, if Negan were intending to strike Maggie, Abe pushed her down right in the nick of time and bore the brunt of the weapon. However, I still don’t think Negan would stoop to that.
Ultimately, I think multiple people were struck by Negan with Lucille. It seems as if a bit of time (maybe 5-7 minutes) has passed in the S7 teaser, and the fresh blood on Rick’s face seemed more recent than during the initial impacts from the last moments of the S6 finale. Negan was asking Rick who his right-hand man was, and it could be Daryl, Glenn, or Abraham. Daryl is injured -- again, no sport -- and, as Dani said earlier, he has his own show on AMC now, although it capitalizes on that rebellious, loner persona that he plays on the show, so I don’t know what will happen if audiences can't directly connect to the character anymore.
Negan might have gone after Glenn first because Glenn spoke out of turn when Negan threatened Maggie, therefore drawing attention to himself. If Negan killed Maggie, that just earned him one more adversary whose rage will supplant any fear toward her killer. If Negan killed Glenn, though, Maggie can’t even stand on her own at the moment, let alone shout out or lunge for her husband. Whatever she might try to do to help Glenn, and IF Negan decides to punish her for it, Abraham would deliberately get in harm's way. Rick can’t do this because he has Carl and Judith to protect. The only seed of doubt in my mind about Glenn is that Steven Yeun was talking about Glenn’s relationship to Maggie at NYCC, and his remarks sounded like it was ongoing rather than done. Come on -- it could be one giant ruse to spur more debate before the premiere. Of course it is!
Black sheep: let’s not discount Eugene. He gave the instructions for making bullets to Rick and made up with Abraham before taking the RV by himself to throw off the direction of the others with Maggie, kind of like his character was wrapping up. Plus, methinks he told Negan something in the RV when he was captured -- something Negan would want to profit from and destroy any loose ends. He may have thought he was Rick’s nerdy sidekick, someone that elevated the group beyond mere survival. Negan wants to get rid of the brains in order to retain the brawn for his advantage.
To make matters worse, I think Rick gets a hand chopped off in the RV, so I’m really counting on Carol, Morgan, and the knights on horseback to pull some beet-cookie level action on the Saviors.